Japanese Bonsai Garden - Learning Curve

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Kalum, 10 Jan 2018.

  1. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Even though my tank won’t be anywhere near the scaped level of most of you I thought it would be good to keep a timeline of mine anyway to show what I’m planning and what I learn along the way as i'm new to all this (hopefully get a few pointers and ideas from any of you as well, be as brutal as you want….)

    Main idea for this tank is a Japanese Bonsai Garden as a small community tank that is based around a betta. I had initially planned to keep it minimalist but the more time I spend on this site the more I want to plant, plus it will be more interesting for the fish as well. So I’m at a point where I’m looking for ideas so any comments are welcome, my plant knowledge is pretty basic.

    Tank = Superfish Home 60 (55cm x 32cm x 35cm)

    Lighting = Built in 10w LED lighting (4 levels) with blue light night mode (2 levels)

    Filtration = Internal Superfish Aqua Flow 200 <400 lph> (Charcoal and half of the standard sponge removed and replaced 125g of Seachem Matrix and 2 layers of Juwel Filter Floss)

    Heater = 100w Juwel Aqua Heat

    Plants = so far (pretty sparse as you can see but just picked up a few from my LFS to help cycle the tank till I decide exactly what I want) = Hygrofillia Salicfolia Narrow Leaf, Micranthemum Monte Carlo, Java Moss Bridge (temp), Marimo Moss Balls, Christmas Moss & Fissidens Fontanus

    Landscaping = 4kg ‘Mini Landscaping Rock’, Superfish Bonsai Driftwood - Small

    Substrate = Hugo Kamishi Natural Sand

    Ferts = Flourish Excel (1ml daily), Flourish Comp (0.5ml daily) but this will be replaced with Aqua Scaper Complete once it arrives and will be dosing at 2.5ml daily and also using Dennerle Power Root Tabs (once every 3-4 months but will monitor)

    Photoperiod = 6 hours (5pm – 11pm), not much direct sunlight at all

    Co2 = Liquid only as want to see how I get on and learn without gas first but I know I’ve been ambitious with the mosses for a newb so I’m open to adding if needed down the line.

    Dechlorinator = Prime

    Temperature = 25.5°C (78°F), currently at 27.5°C (81.5°F) to help the bacteria growth

    Fish = None in this tank yet as still cycling, but planning on 1 x Betta (halfmoon), 6-8 x Espei Rasbora, 6 x Tertas (tbc), 2 x otocinclus catfish and possible a couple of shrimp if my betta allows it.

    Tank progress = Currently in the middle of my fishless cycle where it is dealing with 4ppm ammonia in 24 hours (down to 0.25ppm) but still have high nitrites and nitrates, doing daily WC (30%, 50% and 70% over last 3 days) to try and keep the nitrites below 5ppm and after last nights WC it finally dropped to 2ppm so I brought ammonia back up to 2ppm.

    Current ideas – Bonsai with Fissidens & Christmas Moss wall on the side of the filter housing. Considering making a spray bar mounted at the back to aid in circulation (need to see how the betta reacts with the flow and surface agitation and take into account)

    Happy(ish) with the left side of the tank once the Bonsai is in and a few tweaks, but middle and right is very lacklustre right now and looks basic, was just planted quickly to cycle and I want to redo prior to introducing fish and plant a bit heavier, what plants i'm not sure yet....

    Bonsai driftwood
    20180105_200116-1512x2016.jpg

    Test of bonsai in tank
    20180102_195914-2016x1512.jpg

    As it stands now
    20180106_131321-2016x1512.jpg
     
    Last edited: 23 Jan 2018
  2. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    8,620
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    Hi Kalum,
    You can stop adding ammonia, it doesn't help in planted tanks, and may actually inhibit the growth of the microbial flora you want.

    Have a look at <"Do I need to cycle..."> for some more detail.

    If you want to keep a Betta I would definitely have floating plants, and a leafy plant that reaches the tanks surface. Have a look at <"Planted Betta tank....">.

    If you want some floaters etc. I always have plenty spare.

    cheers Darrel
     
    hotashes, Sarpijk and Kalum like this.
  3. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Hi Darrel, thanks for the comments. That's the first time i've ever heard that adding ammonia could actually be detrimental to the bacterial growth in the cycle. I have heard about people just setting up, running and leaving their tanks for 2 months to cycle itself but with the little planting i have i felt my tank needed that little extra push. I'm making sure i keep my levels within reason with regular WC's so they don't spike and stall the cycle. I always thought you needed to keep the bacteria fed so needed ammonia of some form for that?

    I did buy a Red Lotus Tiger Lily but after finding out it's not the friendliest of plants and the root system is pretty aggressive i opted to take it back, thanks for the offer as well it's much appreciated i'll have a look into what floating plants there are and learn a bit more about them, leafy denser plants are exactly what i'm wanting for the middle/right side of the tank. Not wanting anything too big but enough so theres a few hiding places for the betta and other fish etc...scouring aquarium gardens website constantly trying to whittle it down but it's a minefield
     
  4. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    8,620
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    Yes, this is what we recommend and it really does work.
    Cycling is a contentious subject, and most of what you read on forums (I know this is a forum) is incorrect.

    Ammonia levels are relevant, but the really important metric, in biological filtration is oxygen. This is why scientists talk about the bioload in terms of <"Biochemical Oxygen Demand"> (BOD).

    Ammonia levels have a major effect on dissolved oxygen levels, because when you have nitrification you convert NH3(NH4+) to NO2- to NO3-, so you've liberated three hydrogen ions ("protons") and you've taken three oxygen atoms from the water. Acids are defined as <"proton donors">, so you have also reduced the base status of the water.

    The traditional view of biological filtration is that:
    • Certain filter bacteria are all important in nitrification, and that the bacteria involved require a high pH and a large ammonia loading.
    • Plants (and substrate) are looked at as relatively irrelevant.
    • Cycling is basically a binary process where tanks are either non-cycled or cycled
    None of this is really true, cycling is very much a "shades of grey" process. Where the traditional view starts to break down is that scientific research has shown that the extremely restricted ammonia oxidising bacteria, that were originally isolated from sewage works, don't actually occur in aquarium filters. You can read Dr Tim Hovanec's more recent comments in <"Bacteria revealed">. Also we know that plants and substrate are of great importance in bio-filtration, have a look at Dr Stephan Tanner's <"aquarium biofiltration"> article for some details about substrates.

    The major advance was when RNA analysis has shown that nitrification is carried out by a much wider range of organisms than was originally suspected, many of them belonging to the <"Archaea">. Research into <"phytoremediation of organic wastes"> and <"Constructed wetlands"> has shown that "plant/microbe" filtration is potentially an order of magnitude more efficient than "microbe only filtration".
    I like Ceratopteris thalictroides (or <"C. cornuta">). If you have a Pets@Home near you you may be able to find some Tropica plants in the <"three for £11"> plant selection. A <"Cryptocoryne sp."> like <"C. beckettii"> or <"C. x willisii"> may also be available (and recommended).

    Another good one is <"Ceratophyllum demersum">, you may struggle to find any-one who sells it now, but I use it a lot.

    cheers Darrel
     
  5. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Every days a school day Darrel, some interesting reading there and a totally differet take on things, while that would clearly be the best and most natural way I'm not sure I'm that patient tbh, hopefully the way I've chosen to do things works for me and is a good middle ground between totally natural method you explained above and a fish in cycle

    I think I'll use aquarium gardens for most of my plants from now so I'll have a look on there, the crypts are a few I was looking at before and it was the Cryptocoryne Nevellii that caught my eye but looks very similar to the 2 above
     
  6. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2008
    Messages:
    8,620
    Location:
    nr Bath
    Hi all,
    It is probably <"Cryptocoryne x willisii">. You can only get a positive ID for most Cryptocoryne plants when they flowers, which they only do when grown emersed.
    That is the thing it isn't really, it is a pretty mainstream approach in some European countries (like Germany and the Netherlands).

    I'll be quite honest with you, I think there are certain parts of the Aquatics industry which has no interest in making the welfare of aquarium fish any better, and actively seeks to obscure and mislead aquarists, probably because there is no money to be made in telling people plants and time will cycle a tank.

    When I started keeping fish there wasn't any internet and few books with any useful information. "Aged tank water" was meant to have all sorts of magic properties, and most people took great care to change as little water as possible, because of the dangers of fresh tap water. I (and most other people) used to kill off their fish with alarming regularity. It was only later that I realised the "aged water" was a lot of the problem, not the solution.

    The problem now is that all the answers are out there, but you have to sift the wheat from the chaff on the internet, and there is a lot of chaff. Have a look at <"PlanetCatfish: using deep gravel...">, it is quite a long thread but has a variety of opinions.

    cheers Darrel
     
  7. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeh I think that's exactly it, the internet is its own worst enemy at times because it's like Chinese whispers and if you repeat something enough it becomes 'true'

    The main thing for me is i get the aquarium yo look the way I want and that I create a good home for the fish without harming them along way, I'm pushing things along with low/moderate ammonia dosing and although not as natural it should hopefully still get me the same end result in a reasonable time frame, I'm only on day 17 of having it set up so expecting it to be another few weeks of it sorting itself out and finding its feet

    The links and explanations are much appreciated and I can see me placing an order for a few plants this weekend
     
  8. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Sorting out my temp planting situation so did the quick sketch below to keep me right. Comments welcome.
    20180111_170312.png

    1. Bonsai Driftwood with Fissidens Fontanus
    2. Micranthemum Monte-Carlo
    3. Hygrofillia Salicfolia Narrow Leaf
    4. TBC (possibly Limnophila Sessiliflora)
    5. Hygrophila 'Siamensis 53B & Hygrofillia Salicfolia Narrow Leaf
    6. Alternanthera Reineckii Mini
    7. Staurogyne Repens

    Still looking for a high surface type plant that’s not too big for my small tank (for either front left or right) and caught between a floater such as frogbit and a stem plant like Nymphoides Hydrophilla ‘Taiwan’. Don’t want it to obstruct the view in the tank but also don’t want it floating around everywhere

    Not sure if Limnophila Sessiliflora (4) might be a bit much with everything else I’ve planned as well…
     
  9. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Few things starting to turn up
    20180110_180307-1512x2016.jpg
     
    Ryan Thang To likes this.
  10. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Wee delivery from Aquarium Gardens
    20180113_091735-1512x2016.jpg
     
    Ryan Thang To likes this.
  11. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Prep
    20180113_105537-1512x2016.jpg
     
  12. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Getting there, not happy with a few things but it's work in progress and I'm learning as I go I'm fairly happy for now
    20180113_121122-2016x1512.jpg 20180113_121134.jpg 20180113_121143.jpg
     
  13. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Change in ferts from today, dosing 2.5ml of Evolution Aquascaper Complete and 1.5ml Excel daily
     
  14. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Decided I'm going to get a Nymphoides Hydrophilia Taiwan ordered to sit in the back left corner behind the bonsai to provide a surface plant for the betta so sleep/hide, just need to make sure it doesn't shade the fissidens on the bonsai

    On the look out for a very small and low piece of driftwood for front/middle which I'll grow some Christmas moss on, purely for the fish/shrimp rather the aesthetics
     
  15. Smells Fishy

    Smells Fishy Member

    Joined:
    25 Oct 2015
    Messages:
    476
    Location:
    Scarbourgh, UK
    I love the concept you've made and how it's centered around the bonsai tree. I remember a few years ago P@H sold them along with these crazy levitating moss balls tied to string with a weight at the bottom. I've recently bought a double tail Betta also, he's being a bit of a challenge to feed, only eating frozen bloodworms with gusto. So I've bought some betta pellets, hopefully that should sort him out.
     
  16. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Thanks mate :)

    Ah nice how long have you had your betta for? I feed mine the Fish Science Betta Granuals and he can't get enough of them, going to get some blood worms a daphnia soon and feed them once a week
     
  17. Smells Fishy

    Smells Fishy Member

    Joined:
    25 Oct 2015
    Messages:
    476
    Location:
    Scarbourgh, UK
    I've had him coming on a month now and over that time I've tried quite a few foods on him including frozen daphnia. It was my first time and only time using it so I don't know if its normal but when it was defrosted and i added some to the water it seemed all stuck together and didn't resemble daphnia at all, then in the current it broke up into hundreds of bits. It's probably going to stay in my freezer for years until I've got a tank with enough tiny fish that can eat it.

    I didn't know Fish Science did a betta food, will probably try it out, where did you buy it?. I've got tetra betta food in the post, I think it's the cheapest you can get, also bought NT labs pro-f nano as a back up.
     
  18. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    I've only had mine for just over 2 weeks now, tried to feed him a pea on a couple of occasions (even soaked in garlic juice as they suppsedly love that even though it sounds rank). Think I'll try the live daphnia and bloodworms rather than frozen. All the frozen stuff just looks shockingly bad when defrosted like you say.

    Yeh its just new out and my local LFS Riverside Aquaria had it and recommended it and is what they feed their bettas.
     
    dw1305 likes this.
  19. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Got a Co2 kit arriving in a couple of days so i want to make sure i'm set up for getting it dialed and understand it all from the start.

    Hardness - 2.67 dKH (tap water according to Scottish Water tests) - is my tank likely to vary much from this with what i have and is it worth getting a liquid test kit to use just at the start to set up my pH drop?
    pH - tap water is 7.2 out the tap and also in my tank (constant no matter what time of day)
    TDS - no idea

    According to Tom Barr's table (using a pH of 7.2 and kH of 3) would mean i need to achieve a drop to 6.5 pH which will equate to 28.5ppm. Do I need more accurate measurements for kH or is this a good enough starter?

    Are pH pens withing a reasonable price worth it or is the liquid tests adequate?
    TDS meter/pen worth it to keep track of values since i'm introducing Co2 to try and get a balance?

    Obviously all of these tests are just an indication and what is happening in the tank and how the plants and fish react is more important, i just want to make sure i give myself as much a chance of getting it right early on as possible rather than a hit and hope
     
  20. Kalum

    Kalum Member

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2018
    Messages:
    759
    Location:
    Scotland
    Co2 Art kit and 1.5kg Co2 cylinder from Scotech in Glasgow hopefully arriving today :thumbup:
     

Share This Page

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice